Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Can you be angry and still show love?

In the last few years, I've realized that love is not a noun. It's a verb. Love is nothing without action. It is not a passive, mamby pamby, lollipop, floaty thing that only lives for itself in the heat of feeling. It is a warrior of purpose that strides through the darkness and brings light despite the odds. The most profound examples of love are those that come from pain. When you can stare into the face of an angry person, take his or her abuse and hold it in love, refusing to retaliate with similar venomous words, you understand the power of the love warrior. When you experience a betrayal of trust and have the patience to wait for change and redemption in the betrayer...and know the right timing to walk away if necessary without anger or unforgiveness, then the warrior is working in your heart. When you lose a loved one too soon and for no legitimate reason, and you can see the beauty of that person's short life and carry on his or her legacy, your love is like a flame of light to everyone around you. We never know how deeply we affect people, for good or ill, over the course of our lives. But if we can rise every day with the intention of making ourselves a blessing, of standing tall and walking straight without fear or judgment, then we are walking the way of love. And true love is the most powerful force in life. It transcends war, destruction and pain like nothing else. It puts the soul at rest in the most gut-wrenching circumstances. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said many profound things, but the big one that sticks in my mind is: Love your enemies. If you love only those who love you, what credit is that to you? If you greet only your brothers, so what? Everyone can do that. But only true love warriors can see someone who hurt them, smile and wish him well. This is not weakness or mamby pamby passivity. This is strength and action. Be a verb, my friends. Matthew 5

Monday, June 11, 2012

carpe diem

Life arrived today.

I walked out to my garden to see the growth and to check on three killdeer eggs nestled near the beans. I was surprised to see one speckled egg heaving from the chick now partially visible inside it. A second egg had a tiny hole pecked through it and the chick inside that one moved the egg with its machine-gun breathing. The third egg still looked like a speckled rock, still and silent.

I sat quietly watching the eggs in the early light. I wondered if all three would survive the weather, predators, hunger and thirst. But my day was beginning too so I couldn't sit long to see how it would all play out.

By late morning all three chicks had hatched and nestled close to each other, their already formed gray feathers covering their bodies. The parents squawked and faked injuries nearby to distract any predators from getting closer.

By late afternoon, one chick remained in the circle of pebbles that made up the shallow nest. I wondered what became of the other two, worried about the pending storm on the horizon and felt the wind grow colder.

As the lightning and thunder joined heavy rains in early evening, the fate of the chicks was in the balance. Would they drown? Would they get lost in the dark?

I peered out my kitchen window the next day, preparing to make blueberry pancakes and ticking off the items on my to-do list. I had already walked to the garden and didn't find a single chick...only the two killdeer parents wandering around aimlessly. Perhaps that is how life works, I thought. One minute you're here and living and breathing and the next you disappear.  What is the point of life, then, if it's so brief and without purpose? Maybe it's because my birthday is this week, but everything felt a bit futile.

King Solomon said that all is vanity. He was the wisest human leader in the Bible, but at the end of his life he only found futility in his riches and power. He encouraged people to eat, drink and be merry with family and friends, to guard their hearts against sin, to work hard and stay focused. Because in the end the works of this world are worthless except the development of our character and wisdom. All earthly things come to rust and ruin...including us.

While the fools of the Bible focused only on pleasure and achievement, Solomon advised us to serve others to the best of our ability, enjoy the simple things and honor one another with our lives...however brief. We see examples of infants who inspire great works by their families even though their lives lasted minutes or hours. We also see examples of elderly teachers who continue to learn, grow and serve to the end. A speaker at a women's luncheon recently related the story of her dying mother who wrote cards of faithful encouragement to two people who needed a good word; these people received the cards the day of her mother's funeral.

Still gazing out my window, I saw something fascinating in my neighbor's yard. Three little specks darted back and forth in the grass. The killdeer parents flew around wildly, chasing off any curious wildlife. The chicks survived. And with God's grace we like them will rise to the opportunity of wild and precious life every moment we have to live it.

May God bless you and remind you of today's simple gifts.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Give Away What You Want the Most

What do you want the most in life? Is it love? Is it respect? Is it peace? Is it encouragement?

Give it to others. You will be amazed at how it all comes back to you.

Sit down sometime this weekend and jot down three to five things that you most want. In the next week, make it a practice to give those things to someone else...without expectation of return.

The return may not come to you in the same day or even the same month, but watch for it. It will come back to you.

Matthew 10:8 says "Freely you have received, freely give."

For example, if I value encouragement, then I could write a note to someone who I appreciate.

If I value forgiveness, then I could be understanding if someone is having a bad day and not on the best behavior.

If I value respect, then I could show tolerance for someone else's opinion.

And if I value love, then I could use every opportunity to display it for others, regardless of their response.

This giving could also be material. If I value a warm coat, I could provide one to someone in need. If I value a delicious meal, I could cook for someone (or buy someone dinner!).

Be creative. Write down the things you value and proceed to give them away. I'd love to hear what happens for you next!

Col 3:23

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hunger Games...really?

So I have read about the latest teen movie craze known as the Hunger Games, and I have to wonder...why?

Well, actually I don't wonder why. Our society is exposing children to violence at far younger ages than we witnessed in the most recent two generations.

In my day, we had Pac Man. Today, we have Call of Duty and Twisted Metal. In my day, we had "Who Shot J.R?" on Dallas, and I don't believe there was any blood shown. These days, we have scary alien monsters who bite a chunk out of a human being and the blood sprays all over — on prime time television.


Call me old fashioned, but there are few TV shows or movies that I'm interested in watching anymore, let alone those that claim to be PG-13 material. Haven't we seen enough real bloodshed in New York, Iraq, Afghanistan, Uganda, Syria, Libya, Egypt and on our own neighborhood streets to be sick of it? Literally. Sick of it. Are our senses so deadened that when we witness a child die, even "for pretend," it's no big deal?

If there is some poignant message in this movie about how it's the government's fault that people are shooting each other and fighting for resources, I don't get it. It seems to me that individuals are practicing enough selfishness and greed all by themselves without the government's help or hindrance.

So no, I'm not entertained by children trying to kill each other. And I vote no on exposing my children to it. They'll have enough real world troubles to deal with, and I don't want them desensitized to the tragedies and needs of others. Any kind of violence, real or imaginary, isn't OK.

John 13:35

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Teach Them to Pray

I saw this wonderful post on a friend's Facebook page this week, and want to pass on the steps for talking to kids about unanswered prayers.

God hears our prayers and answers them, but according to his will, not ours. This author at Christian Mom Thoughts explains it so much better.

And then there's this verse, if you doubt God's love or concern for us.

Luke 11:1-13

It doesn't always seem like God is listening, but this could also be said for any busy parent. We love our children and want to give them the best of everything, but not everything is in their best interests. When it seems like we're being unfair or inattentive, it's really because we have wisdom to see the future consequences of choices for our children. They want an answer right away, but we might need time to give the right answer.

And sometimes we also let them make decisions on their own — and we allow them to face the consequences.

It is a tender balance of holding tight and letting go in any relationship. But if our holding tight or letting go is done in love for the wellbeing of the other person, we can trust that God will use all for good.

I hope this post finds you in good health and practicing patient parenting, answering your children's requests with love and thoughtful consideration. They might not always like you, but that promise was never in the parent job description anyway.

If I missed that memo, please let me know!